So why the selective vision? It's not, happily, because we're having surgical procedures; the perception has less to do with our bodies than our minds. Approximately two-thirds of the people surveyed in the Laser Centers research said they simply have a healthier self-image than they did when they were younger; half said they think they're more stylish; only 6 percent said plastic surgery is the reason they look more youthful.
Our expectations about getting old also factor into the equation; the Pew survey found that the not-yet-old think aging is going to be much more problematic than old people report it actually is. And we may be programmed to maintain a youthful self-image as a way of protecting ourselves from the knowledge that we are getting closer to death, says Amy Wechsler, MD, a New York City psychiatrist and dermatologist and author of The Mind-Beauty Connection. Sometimes a little denial is a beautiful thing.